Eight years ago, she won the women’s division of the inaugural CrossFit Games. Today, she looks at the sport’s beginnings and how it still influences her life.

As CrossFit and the CrossFit Games continue to grow, the origins of CrossFit become buried among the news of the next competition, the winners, and the future path of the sport.

For instance, ask any CrossFitter who has joined the scene in the past couple of years if they know the meaning of Aromas. Chances are they will look at you funny and say, “You mean smell?”

But Aromas, Calif., is where the CrossFit Games all began — at the Ranch.

Ask that same person who won the first CrossFit Games, and what year it was in, and you may hear nothing but crickets chirping. While James FitzGerald’s name may come up, the women’s division winner may not. But ask anyway, because she is still a CrossFitter incarnate: Which woman won the first CrossFit Games in 2007?

Meet 37-year-old Jolie Gentry Macias (formerly Jolie Gentry) of the NorCal region: the first-ever fittest woman in the world and known as a badass.  Macias is a police patrol sergeant, former collegiate volleyball superstar, cardio-kickboxing queen, and, now mother to Luna, 5.

Macias did not plan, or even set a goal, to win the 2007 CrossFit Games. In fact, the Games found her.

Macias did not plan, or even set a goal, to win the 2007 CrossFit Games. In fact, the Games found her. “I wasn’t even going to compete that weekend,” she said. “Freddy Camacho, the owner of my box at the time, talked me into it. I was actually scheduled to work that weekend, but to appease him, told him I’d come out for Saturday’s competition, and then just duck out Sunday.”

However, sitting in first place at the end of day one, Macias changed her mind. “I called work, and knew they’d have to let me off,” she said.

That weekend, three total workouts solidified Macias’ champion status, including the Hopper Style CrossFit WOD, which consisted of (for time) a 1,000-meter row, then five rounds each of 25 pull-ups and seven push jerks (135/85 pounds), a 5K trail run, followed by CrossFit Total.

“It’s changed so much since then. It was just about 40 athletes who showed up to the Ranch that weekend, like a local throwdown nowadays.”

Macias said the competition looked completely different than it does today: No StubHub arena, Reebok sponsors, thousands of spectators, or media coverage in sight. “It’s changed so much since then. It was just about 40 athletes who showed up to the Ranch that weekend, like a local throwdown nowadays. Annie, Eva, and Nicole didn’t even compete — I feel like if they had, it may have turned out differently,” Macias said, laughing.

Humble as most, Macias stems from the same generation of CrossFit greats as the Nasty Girls (Annie, Eva, Nicole) and those who attended her Level 1 seminar, including Kelly Starrett and Adrian Bozman in January 2007. In other words, Macias is an OG (Original Gamer). A pioneer in the growing and evolving CrossFit movement, Macias worked as part of the HQ seminar staff up until five years ago when her daughter was born.

She first heard about CrossFit in September 2006, when two officers she’d met at basic SWAT school told her about a guy who was “a machine” and just ran circles around everyone else on their SWAT team. “They said he did this thing called CrossFit, and knowing I was interested in fitness, said that I would probably like it. When I returned from school, my teammate Darryl told me that he had just started training at One World Gym, where there was a cop who ran CrossFit classes. The first day I walked in the door, I realized that the cop he had been talking about was Freddy Camacho. I’d known Freddy for years. In fact, he had been a student of mine in a group cardio class that I had taught,” Macias said.

From day one, Macias was all in. “I don’t even remember my first workout, but I really liked how CrossFit required strength, and also pull-ups — I was pretty decent at pull-ups from the days I used to rock climb,” Macias said.

“I had fun while I was part of it but then began to explore other things. I ended up finding weightlifting, and fell in love with that, competing in the American Open in 2012 and 2013.”

Photo by Jennifer Pope Photography

After winning the title in 2007, Macias went on to compete at every consecutive Games at the Ranch in Aromas through 2009, finishing fifth in 2008 and seventh in 2009. “The sport and competition level definitely began to grow. I had fun while I was part of it but then began to explore other things. I ended up finding weightlifting, and fell in love with that, competing in the American Open in 2012 and 2013.”

Macias’ stats at the peak of her CrossFit career boasted:

Fran: 3:41 (65-pound thrusters)

Helen: 10:17 (35-pound kettlebell)

CrossFit Total: Squat 190, press 100, deadlift 235; total = 525 pounds

Max pull-ups (single set): 40

This, compared to 2014 champ Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, is only one reflection of just how much the sport has evolved:

Fran: 1:58

Helen: 7:20

CrossFit Total: Squat 320, press 130, deadlift 300; total = 525 pounds

Max pull-ups (single set): 80

Today, Macias is still a cop at the police department in the Northern California city of Newark. Her perspective on fitness has come full circle, particularly since family and motherhood have taken precedence.

While she no longer competes in CrossFit, she said the sport has empowered her to do anything she puts her mind to. “Lately, I’ve just been focusing on fun stuff, like running a half-marathon with my sister at Disney World this coming January or a 10K I did recently. At work, we also have an annual competition amongst the department that is pretty intense — testing all sorts of fitness — it’s no joke. I also would love to get back into local weightlifting events — the snatch and clean and jerk,” Macias said.

“I am also really interested in learning more about the coaching side of the sport. I want to teach young kids how to be strong kids through the sport. And…more than anything I want to be a healthy role model for my daughter,” she said.

That includes playing and doing cartwheels on the playground. “My husband and I love how we are able to keep up with her. She thinks it’s cool she can see us on the playground, playing like kids — but we are the only mom and dad out there,” Macias said.

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